Monday, November 15, 2010

WV fracking law drafted

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has drafted a 100-page law requiring “gas companies to submit comprehensive water management plans for future Marcellus shale drilling operations,” which often involve a process known as hydraulic fracture (using high-pressure water to break the underground rock and release the gas), known popularly as “fracking.”

The proposed legislation would mandate that companies “ identify when, where and how much water they withdraw for drilling operations… what chemicals they add, how much wastewater they produce, and when and where they would dispose of the waste…[and] requires companies to replace any water they contaminate.”

The AP also reports that the Secretary of DEP, Randy Huffman—who is generally viewed by environmentalists as being a creature of the coal industry—says “the document will change before it goes to lawmakers in January,” and that Huffman handed over the draft to AP “to avoid any appearance of secrecy.”

It looks to me like the draft was leaked this far in advance to give the gas industry plenty of time to grease the proper wheels in the legislature. But if it does what it says, it would make this one of the most progressive laws on fracking in the country. It’s definitely moving in the right direction. This is one of the most immediate environmental emergencies we face in this state, and county. No water, no life.

--Michael Hasty

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